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Why Bill O’Brien Has Improved Houston

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Houston Texans fans have not been the biggest fans of their head coach and new general manager Bill O’Brien. Several moves made by O’Brien have resulted in the loss of several key players to the franchise. Moves included trading away Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins. It has also brought in Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, David Johnson, and Brandin Cooks through trade.

The youth movement is in place for Houston, but trading away key pieces like Clowney and Hopkins has fans questioning if O’Brien knows what he’s doing. Texans CEO Cal McNair made the move to adding general manager to O’Brien’s job title. Fans got in an uproar over the move questioning what the organization was doing. Despite it all, fans should feel good about the moves made the past nine months by O’Brien.

Many fans will see that last sentence and become baffled about the comment. Evidence will show that the moves made will actually make the team better for the future. Flaws have been found with the moves, but there is a silver lining to the additions and subtractions made by the team.

Clowney Had a Down Season

During the preseason last year, Jadeveon Clowney was traded to Seattle for two players and a third-round pick. The compensation wasn’t exactly what fans would have wanted for Clowney, but he had one of his worst seasons of his career. Clowney recorded only three sacks in 13 games for Seattle. The number is his lowest since his rookie season when he played just four games.

A combination of reasons could have resulted in Clowney’s down year, but the argument can be made that O’Brien knew something others didn’t. He’s been inconsistent for someone who was supposed to be a top-notch pass rusher. Clowney has never hit ten sacks in a season during his six-year career. The team needs to find a formable partner for J.J. Watt to rush the quarterback on the outside.

Texans Got Good Picks From Hopkins

Granted, the Texans could have gotten more for someone of DeAndre Hopkins’ status, but not many teams would give up a first round pick. It’s hard to make a move to get a high pick, but the team got good value for David Johnson, a second-round, and fourth-round pick. The team was able to load up on draft picks for more ammunition for trades or making picks on draft day.

It’s hard to make the argument that trading Hopkins was a good idea, but there was an opportunity that presented itself to Houston. The passing game was not a problem with Deshaun Watson leading the attack. Watson has plenty of weapons now with Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, Randall Cobb, and Brandin Cooks. Some could argue the offense got better from moving Hopkins.

Texans Offense Improved Overall

The Johnson combo in the backfield between David and Duke could end up being a deadly duo. David has had his injury issues, but when he’s on the field, he’s dynamic with being able to run to the outside. He’s versatile in being able to catch the ball out of the backfield as well. Duke Johnson is similar and should take the load off of David in the running game.

Brandin Cooks being acquired from the Rams and Randall Cobb being signed in free agency boasted the receiving core. Losing Hopkins is a lost to the team, but the weapons are there for Watson to still be successful. The team is putting a lot of faith in Fuller and Stills to take the next steps in their development. Both have great speed with good hands. Cobb and Cooks are no slouches. Cooks has had four 1,000 yard seasons in his six year career. Cobb has been a consistent third down receiver and brings a veteran presence to the group.

Houston Continues to Win Despite Moves

Fans can show as much frustration for the team as they want, but the undeniable fact is the team is still winning games. O’Brien has led the team to the playoffs four of the six seasons he has been the coach. The team has gone 21-11 in the past two seasons with both seasons including playoff appearances. What’s holding the team back is going further than the AFC Divisional Round. O’Brien has a chance to write all the wrongs and lead the team further into the playoffs. While fans’ patience are running thin, the team still has enough firepower to make another playoff appearance this season.


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XFL, Dallas Renegades, and Houston Texans writer for Overtime Heroics. Also contributes to NFL, XFL, and arena football news for XFL Board, Infinity Sports Network, Arena Football Talk, Prime Time Sports Talk, and Eagles Nation.